2018-2019 Winter Forecast

It is this time. Winter is here and Christmas is coming. Christmas comes sooner and sooner every year. We have a warming equatorial Pacific, which suggests El Nino is developing. What will the Winter of 2018-2019 be like? Since we had La Nina last winter and a developing El Nino. Here are El Nino in which the previous winter was La Nina.
1876-1877
1899-1900
1904-1905
1911-1912
1918-1919
1925-1926
1939-1940
1951-1952
1957-1958
1963-1964
1965-1966
1968-1969
1972-1973
1976-1977
1986-1987
1997-1998
2006-2007
2009-2010

Here is a map of sea surface temperature anomaly.

I will also look at the ocean temperature as they are factors besides El Nino, to narrow it down. They are Tripole Index for the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (TPI IPO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP), Equatorial Indian Ocean (EIOI), Roaring Forties (R40I), and Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO). The rest that are not linked, please click on Climate Indices. Not all El Nino winters are the same.

Here is the chart of analogs.

Year ENSO TPI IPO PDO AMO NEPWP EIOI DMI R40I QBO Total Note
1876-1877 1 1 1 1 1 1 6 No QBO Data
1899-1900 1 1 1 1 1 5 No QBO Data
1904-1905 1 1 2 No QBO Data
1911-1912 1 1 1 3 No QBO Data
1918-1919 1 1 1 1 4 No QBO Data
1925-1926 1 1 1 1 4 No QBO Data
1939-1940 1 1 1 1 4 No QBO Data
1951-1952 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7
1957-1958 1 1 1 1 1 1 6
1963-1964 1 1 1 1 1 5
1965-1966 1 1 1 3
1968-1969 1 1 1 1 1 5
1972-1973 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7
1976-1977 1 1 1 1 1 5
1986-1987 1 1 1 1 1 1 6
1997-1998 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7
2006-2007 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8
2009-2010 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7

I narrowed it down.
1876-1877
1899-1900
1951-1952
1957-1958
1963-1964
1968-1969
1972-1973
1976-1977
1986-1987
1997-1998
2006-2007
2009-2010

To further it, I narrow down even further.
1876-1877
1951-1952
1972-1973
1997-1998
2006-2007
2009-2010

I will use this as the analog winter forecast. Let’s look at the upper air pattern at the 500 millibar level or 18,000 feet. All the maps are from 20th Century Reanalysis Monthly Composites.

There is ridging over Northeast Canada and Greenland. That is a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). A negative NAO is more favorable for cold winters. Some of the coldest winters have occurred due to negative NAO as cold air from the Arctic region is shunted southward. There is troughing over Gulf Of Alaska and Far East Russia, which are positive East Pacific Oscillation (EPO) and West Pacific Oscillation (WPO). They are the North Pacific equivalent of NAO. There have been freezes when NAO is positive while EPO and WPO are negative, which is ridging over Alaska and Far East Russia. December 1983 and February 1989 freeze occurred due to negative EPO despite positive NAO.

What will the temperature be like at the surface?

Most of Russia, Central Asia, Arctic, and Alaska are cold. Same goes with Eastern US and Texas. This suggests this winter could be a cold one. Some of the coldest winters on record occurred in those analog years of 1972-1973 and 2009-2010. It is most warm over Northeastern Canada, Greenland, Korea, Japan, North Africa, and Southern Europe. It is no surprise that Northeastern Canada and Greenland are warm as there is ridging over the area.

Let’s look at temperature at 850 millibars or 5,000 feet.

The air is cold at 5,000 feet over Russia, Central Asia, Arctic, and Alaska. It is also cold mainly over Texas. The reason I am including this is if is freezing cold above the surface, it increases the chance for snow in the winter. One can have freezing cold at the surface, but warm above ground. That leads to freezing rain or sleet. For snow to form, the upper atmosphere needs to be cold. Snowfall occurs if the surface is not cold because the atmosphere is freezing. It is above that counts. Often when it snows, it is not really that cold.

Lastly, let’s look at precipitation rate.

It looks most wettest in Southeastern US, Southwest, and West Coast. It is also wet in Southern China, Korea, and Japan. It is also wet in Northern India, Nepal, Spain and Portugal. Southeast Texas looks to see about average rainfall.

How were winters like in these analog years?

1876-1877
I cannot find any weather records for Texas that winter. England and Wales had their wettest winter on record.

1951-1952
One of the warmest winters on record for Southeast Texas. It is warm throughout the US.

1972-1973
Houston had three 1 inch or higher snowfall on January 11, February 9-10, and February 17-18. It is Houston’s snowiest winter on record since 1895 when 20 inches of snow fell on February 14-15, 1895. New York City records the least amount of snow in winter on record of 2.80 inches. The winter is one of the coldest on record for Southeast Texas.

1997-1998
The world is gripped by an extremely strong El Nino. Western US had record rainfall, while Indonesia has a severe drought. It is one of Texas’s wettest winter on record.

2006-2007
Freezing rain on January 16-17, 2007. It is part of the much larger North American Ice Storm.

2009-2010
Houston records earliest 1 inch snowfall on December 4, 2009. Second snowfall on February 23, 2010. It is one of the coldest winter on record for Southeast Texas.

Does this mean 2018-2019 winter will be record cold like in 1972-1973 or 2009-2010 or warm like 1951-1952? Does this mean we will see a freezing cold or warm winter? Does this mean we will see many snowfall this winter? Not necessarily. It can go either way.

I think this winter could be a cold winter. I would not be surprised to hear of a major cold blast this coming winter or snow falls again. I could see major winter storms happening.

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What Will Mid January 2018 Be Like?

It has been cold lately. It is a cold start for 2018. There have been cold start to the new year like in 1928 and 1979.

Will there be more cold weather? The Climate Prediction Center 8 to 14 Day Analog could offer some insight.

Some of the analog dates are interesting.
1/19/2001-Cold blasts come on 1/29 with a low of 26°F. The lows would be freezing every night up to 1/23.
1/21/1978-January 1978 is the coldest month on record for Houston. A brief warming occurred on 1/24. It gets cold again on 1/25.
1/29/1952-Heavy rain falls on 2/1. Rainfall totals are Houston WB: 3.22″; Hobby: 3.88″; Galveston: 6.29″. Hobby and Galveston have their wettest 2/1 as of 2018. It is the wettest February day on record for Hobby and Galveston as of 2018.
1/1/1985-A series of cold waves occur in January 1985. Snow falls on 1/2-1/3 and 1/12. A low of 16°F occurred on 1/21.
1/23/1986-A cold blasts went east of Texas. On 1/28, Space Shuttle Challenger launches despite cold weather. The space shuttle explodes in front of horrified audiences and students at school watching the launch.
1/28/1959-Heavy rain falls between 1/29 to 2/4. Rainfall totals are Houston WB: 6.36″; Hobby: 6.93″; Galveston: 2.60″. 3.69″ fell on 2/1 at Houston WB, which is wettest 2/1 as of 2018. It is the wettest February day on record for Houston as of 2018. 2.14″ fell on 1/29 and 0.94″ on 2/2 at Hobby, which is wettest 1/29 and 2/2 as of 2018.
1/11/1961-Snow fell on 1/25. Houston received a trace of snow.

Looking at those analog dates, they mostly had cold blasts. A couple of them had heavy rain. This would suggest we could see another cold blast in mid January. Perhaps we could also see snow or other wintry precipitation. Anything can change.

2017-2018 Winter Forecast

Winter has started and Christmas has passed. It is very cold throughout America. Last winter we had a borderline Neutral/La Nina. This time around, we have La Nina. Other factors to consider are Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP), Equatorial Indian Ocean (EIOI), Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), Tropical South Atlantic (TSAI), Roaring Forties (R40I), Hudson and Baffin Bay (HBB), and Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO). However, since this El Nino is large and strong and has significant impact, it will weigh in more than other factors listed. Here are the analog winters I came up with.

1881-1882
1928-1929
1933-1934
1937-1938
1944-1945
1949-1950
1961-1962
1984-1985
2000-2001

I chose these winters because the previous winter was La Nina or Neutral. Here is a table I created to identify strongest analogs.

Year AMO PDO NEPWP EIOI IOD TSAI R40I HBB QBO Total
1881-1882     1 1 1   1     4
1928-1929 1 1     1     1   4
1933-1934 1 1 1 3
1937-1938 1 1 2
1944-1945 1 1 1 1   1 1 1   7
1949-1950 1 1 1   1 1     1 6
1961-1962 1 1 1     1 1     5
1984-1985       1 1 1 1   1 5
2000-2001 1 1 1 1 1 1 1   1 8

I look at eight ocean and one upper wind patterns based on Fall (September to November) averages. The cutoff for further analysis is four (before 1948 due to QBO data not available). With QBO, the cutoff is five. We can eliminate these winters.
1933-1934
1937-1938

The analogs I will be looking at are:
1881-1882
1928-1929
1944-1945
1949-1950
1961-1962
1984-1985
2000-2001

Let’s start with the ever important temperature. All maps were generated with 20th Century Reanalysis Monthly Composites. They are all Northern Hemisphere.

Alaska, Bering Sea, Southern US, Eastern US, Eastern Canada, Greenland, and Western China are warmer than normal. Arctic, Siberia, Korea, Japan, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, North Africa, Western US, and Western Canada are cooler than normal. Southeast Texas is warmer. Keep in mind, some areas do not have weather records, so this may be spurious as it includes 1881-1882.

Wonder what winter will be like in the rain department?

It is drier in Western US, Western Canada, Southeast US, Cuba, Bahamas, Southern China, Central Asia, Western Europe, and Northern Europe. It is wetter in Central US, Caribbean, Alaska, Northern Japan, Southeast Asia, and North Africa. Southeast Texas sees average amount of rain in the winter. Again, this may be spurious as it includes 1881-1882.

Let’s look at the upper air pattern.

There is upper level ridging south of Alaska, which is negative East Pacific Oscillation (EPO), Eastern US, Siberia, Greenland, and Northeast Canada. Ridging over Greenland and Northeast Canada is negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). There is troughing over Central Canada and one running from Japan, Korea, and to all of Central Asia. Negative NAO and EPO usually means cold air will go down south.

How were winters like in these analog years?

1881-1882
A warm winter dominated the US. Southeast Texas had a warm winter.

1928-1929
A cold blast came on the start of 1929 in Southeast Texas. Another hard freeze came in February 1929. It did not go above freezing on February 9, 1929 with high of 29°F.

1944-1945
A world engulfed in World War II. No freezes occurred in Southeast Texas.

1949-1950
Most of the US had a warm winter, including Southeast Texas.

1961-1962
Snow fell in Houston area in December 1961. January 1962 had a strong cold blast in America. A strong high pressure with pressure of 1062 millibars was recorded. Many areas saw record lows set. Houston saw a record low on January 10, 1962, which has been beaten in 1977.

1984-1985
Cold blasts occurred in January and February 1985. The 1985 Presidential Inauguration was the coldest on record. Many areas saw record lows set. Houston saw record lows on January 20-21, 1985. Near records occurred on February 1-2, 1985. Snow fell in Houston in January and February 1985. San Antonio saw record snowfall on January 11-13, 1985.

2000-2001
Eastern US had a cooler than normal winter. Southeast Texas had a cold winter.

I am not suggesting we will see a cold blast on par with February 1929, January 1962, January 1985, and February 1985. It is possible this winter could see more cold blasts.

I think this winter could be a cooler winter despite what the past analog winters being warm. I would not be surprised to hear of a major cold blast this coming winter or snow falls again.

2016-2017 Winter

Another winter has past. It is now spring again. We really had no winter with the exception of the Pacific Northwest where it got cold. Most of America was wondering where is winter. It felt like another spring. How did this winter stack up?

5 Kilometer Gridded Map Of Temperature Anomaly

Most of the US experienced warmer than normal winter. Some had record warmth winter, especially in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and New Mexico. Washington, Oregon, and Idaho had cooler than normal winter. The mean temperatures tell you a lot. Of course, the devils are in the details.

5 Kilometer Gridded Map Of Minimum Temperature Anomaly

The low temperatures were quite warm in areas where they had record warmth. The areas that were cooler than normal had cooler low temperatures. No surprise there.

5 Kilometer Gridded Map Of Maximum Temperature Anomaly

The high temperature anomaly is not as large as compared minimum temperature anomaly. Low and high temperature can have an impact on overall mean temperature. One can have a cool winter if the low temperatures are high, while high temperatures are low or vice versa.

5 Kilometer Gridded Map Of Rainfall Anomaly

It was very wet, especially in California, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Texas, Iowa, and Alabama. Plenty of rain despite La Nina. It was a weak la Nina.

Here is a Northern Hemisphere temperature anomaly map.

Most of the Northern Hemisphere was warm, especially over the Arctic, North America, Asia, and Europe.

Here is a Northern Hemisphere precipitation anomaly map.

The wettest area is over Northern California where they go the lion share of the precipitation.

Here is a Northern Hemisphere 500 millibar level anomaly map.

There was ridging over the Southern US, Alaska, and Europe. The ridging kept things warm under. There is troughing over Northwest Canada, Pacific Northwest, Siberia, and Arctic. That kept things cold for winter.

Here is a worldwide sea surface temperature anomaly map.

The La Nina was weak, while Northeast Pacific off the coast of Alaska was mostly cooler than normal. There is unusually warm water in the Bering Strait and Gulf of Mexico.

America
Temperature: 35.90°F
Low Temperature: 25.94°F
High Temperature: 45.86°F
Rainfall: 8.22

1895-2017 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 32.37°F
Winter Temperature Median: 32.49°F
Standard Deviation: 2.06

Winter Low Temperature Mean: 21.91°F
Winter Low Temperature Median: 21.95°F
Standard Deviation: 2.13

Winter High Temperature Mean: 42.84°F
Winter High Temperature Median: 43.08°F
Standard Deviation: 2.10

Winter Rainfall Mean: 6.76
Winter Rainfall Median: 6.69
Standard Deviation: 0.89

It was an abnormally warm and wet winter. The temperature and rainfall are 1 standard deviation. This is abnormal in terms of temperature and rainfall. Here are the top 10 warmest and wettest winters in America.

Top 10 Warmest Overall Winter
1.) 2015-2016 36.78°F
2.) 1999-2000 36.48°F
3.) 1991-1992 36.35°F
4.) 2011-2012 36.34°F
5.) 1998-1999 36.27°F
6.) 1997-1998/2016-2017 35.90°F
7.) 2001-2002 35.66°F
8.) 1994-1995 35.56°F
9.) 2005-2006 35.49°F
10.) 2004-2005 35.46°F

Top 10 Warmest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 1997-1998 26.74°F
2.) 2015-2016 26.65°F
3.) 1991-1992 26.39°F
4.) 2016-2017 25.94°F
5.) 1982-1983 25.88°F
6.) 2011-2012 25.63°F
7.) 1994-1995 25.56°F
8.) 1998-1999 25.49°F
9.) 1999-2000 25.46°F
10.) 2004-2005 25.42°F

Top 10 Warmest High Temperature Winter
1.) 1999-2000 47.50°F
2.) 1998-1999 47.07°F
3.) 2011-2012 47.06°F
4.) 2015-2016 46.92°F
5.) 2001-2002 46.59°F
6.) 1953-1954 46.51°F
7.) 1933-1934 46.43°F
8.) 2005-2006 46.37°F
9.) 1991-1992 46.32°F
10.) 1980-1981 46.05°F
11.) 1975-1976 45.88°F
12.) 2016-2017 45.86°F

Top 10 Wettest Winter
1.) 1997-1998 8.99
2.) 1931-1932 8.86
3.) 1936-1937 8.66
4.) 1982-1983 8.52
5. 1996-1997 8.49
6.) 1978-1979 8.44
7.) 1902-1903 8.23
8.) 2016-2017 8.22
9.) 1915-1916 8.19
10.) 1992-1993 8.17

The overall temperature ties with 1998. The past winter of 2015-2016 is the warmest on record. The low temperature is the fourth warmest on record. The high temperature does not make the top 10 warmest. It shows that low temperatures can be a huge factor. The lack of cold air kept the low temperature warm. However, the wet winter kept the high temperature in check.

Texas
Temperature: 52.97°F
Low Temperature: 40.87°F
High Temperature: 65.07°F
Rainfall: 6.12

1895-2017 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 47.36°F
Winter Temperature Median: 47.30°F
Standard Deviation: 2.37

Winter Low Temperature Mean: 34.95°F
Winter Low Temperature Median: 35.10°F
Standard Deviation: 2.30

Winter High Temperature Mean: 59.75°F
Winter High Temperature Median: 59.50°F
Standard Deviation: 2.85

Winter Rainfall Mean: 4.83
Winter Rainfall Median: 4.72
Standard Deviation: 1.82

Top 10 Warmest Overall Winter
1.) 2016-2017 52.97°F
2.) 1906-1907 52.57°F
3.) 1999-2000 52.10°F
4.) 1998-1999 51.70°F
5.) 1951-1952 51.53°F
6.) 1949-1950 51.13°F
7.) 1956-1957 50.90°F
8.) 1910-1911 50.80°F
9.) 2015-2016 50.77°F
10.) 1908-1909 50.67°F

Top 10 Warmest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 2016-2017 40.87°F
2.) 1906-1907 39.50°F
3.) 1956-1957 39.23°F
4.) 1949-1950 39.10°F
5.) 1991-1992 39.07°F
6.) 2004-2005 39.00°F
7.) 1931-1932 38.87°F
8.) 1937-1938 38.80°F
9.) 1910-1911 38.77°F
10.) 1994-1995 38.57°F

Top 10 Warmest High Temperature Winter
1.) 1999-2000 65.77°F
2.) 1906-1907 65.57°F
3.) 2008-2009 65.23°F
4.) 2016-2017 65.07°F
5.) 1998-1999 64.97°F
6.) 1951-1952 64.77°F
7.) 2005-2006 64.63°F
8.) 1970-1971 64.53°F
9.) 1908-1909 64.23°F
10.) 1975-1976 64.03°F

Top 10 Wettest Winter

Texas had the warmest winter on record. The previous warmest winter was 1906-1907. The reason for the warm winter is largely due to abnormally warm low temperature, which is the warmest on record. The high temperatures is fourth warmest on record. 2000 is the warmest in terms of high temperature. All temperatures are 2 standard deviation, which is definitely abnormally and are out liers. However, rainfall is within 1 standard deviation, which is average.

Upper Texas Coast
Temperature: 61.73°F
Low Temperature: 52.73°F
High Temperature: 70.80°F
Rainfall: 12.25

1895-2017 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 54.06°F
Winter Temperature Median: 54.07°F
Standard Deviation: 2.72

Winter Low Temperature Mean: 44.22°F
Winter Low Temperature Median: 44.13°F
Standard Deviation: 2.80

Winter High Temperature Mean: 63.89°F
Winter High Temperature Median: 63.63°F
Standard Deviation: 2.86

Winter Rainfall Mean: 10.23
Winter Rainfall Median: 9.86
Standard Deviation: 3.51

Top 10 Warmest Overall Winter
1.) 2016-2017 61.73°F
2.) 1949-1950 59.57°F
3.) 1906-1907/1998-1999 58.87°F
4.) 1910-1911/1951-1952 58.77°F
5.) 1956-1957 58.73°F
6.) 1999-2000 58.63°F
7.) 1931-1932 58.30°F
8.) 1922-1923 58.07°F
9.) 2012-2013 58.00°F
10.) 1926-1927 57.93°F

Top 10 Warmest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 2016-2017 52.73°F
2.) 1949-1950 50.63°F
3.) 1931-1932 49.77°F
4.) 1956-1957 49.53°F
5.) 1910-1911 49.33°F
6.) 1998-1999 48.90°F
7.) 1951-1952 48.83°F
8.) 2011-2012 48.70°F
9.) 1922-1923 48.47°F
10.) 1971-1972 48.17°F

Top 10 Warmest High Temperature Winter
1.) 2016-2017 70.80°F
2.) 1906-1907 70.17°F
3.) 1999-2000 69.47°F
4.) 1998-1999 68.77°F
5.) 1951-1952 68.67°F
6.) 2008-2009 68.63°F
7.) 1949-1950 68.57°F
8.) 2007-2008 68.30°F
9.) 1910-1911 68.27°F
10.) 2012-2013 68.10°F

This was a very warm winter and literally abnormally warm. The overall temperature of 2016-2017 exceeds the previous warmest winter of 1949-1950 by 2.16°F! It exceeds by near 3 standard deviations! That is definitely an outlier! The low temperature is also the warmest and exceeds the previous warmest low temperature of 1949-1950. It also exceeds 3 standard deviations! However, the warmest high temperature is a close one. It is only by 0.63°F, which is not a lot. Still, it is 2 standard deviations, which in outlier territory. Winter 2016-2017 is an anomaly in terms of warm temperatures! It goes down in the record books! It was a wetter than usual winter, but within 1 standard deviation. It was due to the heavy rains of January.

Now, let’s look at the Last Frontier, Alaska.

Alaska Divisional Temperature Anomaly

Alaska Divisional Minimum Temperature Anomaly

Alaska Divisional Maximum Temperature Anomaly

Alaska Divisional Precipitation Anomaly

Temperature: 5.73°F
Low Temperature: -1.30°F
High Temperature: 12.80°F
Rainfall: 7.30

1925-2017 Winter Statistics
Winter Temperature Mean: 4.21°F
Winter Temperature Median: 4.57°F
Standard Deviation: 4.61

Winter Low Temperature Mean: -2.85°F
Winter Low Temperature Median: -2.90°F
Standard Deviation: 4.94

Winter High Temperature Mean: 11.26°F
Winter High Temperature Median: 11.67°F
Standard Deviation: 4.31

Winter Rainfall Mean: 8.13
Winter Rainfall Median: 7.91
Standard Deviation: 1.63

Alaska as a whole had a largely normal winter. The average temperature is within standard deviation. The precipitation is also within average as well. While the rest of the Lower 48 was warm, Alaska had a typically Alaskan winter. Even than Alaska can get cold and warm in the winter.

Top 10 Coolest Overall Winter
1.) 1924-1925 -7.20°F*
1.) 1964-1965 -5.03°F
2.) 1970-1971 -3.97°F
3.) 1955-1956 -3.10°F
4.) 1946-1947 -3.07°F
5.) 1942-1943 -2.77°F
6.) 1931-1932 -2.33°F
7.) 1933-1934 -2.23°F
8.) 1974-1975 -2.03°F
9.) 1975-1976 -1.83°F
10.) 1968-1969 -1.53°F

* December 1924 is missing.

Top 10 Warmest Overall Winter
1.) 2000-2001 14.97°F
2.) 2015-2016 14.30°F
3.) 2002-2003 13.43°F
4.) 1976-1977 12.80°F
5.) 2014-2015 11.60°F
6.) 1944-1945 11.30°F
7.) 1985-1986 11.27°F
8.) 1928-1929 11.23°F
9.) 1941-1942 11.03°F
10.) 1986-1987 10.80°F

Top 10 Coolest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 1924-1925 -15.25°F*
1.) 1964-1965 -12.50°F
2.) 1970-1971 -11.47°F
3.) 1955-1956 -10.80°F
4.) 1946-1947 -10.70°F
5.) 1931-1932 -10.60°F
6.) 1942-1943 -9.80°F
7.) 1933-1934 -9.63°F
8.) 1974-1975 -9.43°F
9.) 1975-1976 -9.30°F
10.) 1948-1949 -9.00°F

* December 1924 is missing.

Top 10 Warmest Low Temperature Winter
1.) 2000-2001 8.50°F
2.) 2015-2016 8.13°F
3.) 2002-2003 7.53°F
4.) 1976-1977 6.73°F
5.) 2014-2015 5.37°F
6.) 1985-1986 4.60°F
7.) 1944-1945 4.47°F
8.) 1941-1942 4.43°F
9.) 1928-1929 4.27°F
10.) 2013-2014 4.13°F

Top 10 Coolest High Temperature Winter
1.) 1924-1925 0.90°F*
1.) 1964-1965 2.50°F
2.) 1970-1971 3.53°F
3.) 1942-1943 4.27°F
4.) 1946-1947 4.57°F
5.) 1955-1956 4.60°F
6.) 1933-1934 5.20°F
7.) 1974-1975 5.30°F
8.) 1968-1969 5.33°F
9.) 1973-1974 5.63°F
10.) 1975-1976 5.67°F

* December 1924 is missing.

Top 10 Warmest High Temperature Winter
1.) 2000-2001 21.43°F
2.) 2015-2016 20.47°F
3.) 2002-2003 19.30°F
4.) 1976-1977 18.87°F
5.) 1928-1929 18.23°F
6.) 1944-1945 18.17°F
7.) 1985-1986 17.97°F
8.) 2014-2015 17.80°F
9.) 1941-1942 17.63°F
10.) 1986-1987 17.57°F

Top 10 Wettest Winter
1.) 1928-1929 11.89
2.) 1934-1935 11.55
3.) 1943-1944 11.26
4.) 1927-1928 10.88
5.) 1931-1932 10.78
6.) 1984-1985 10.65
7.) 2000-2001 10.61
8.) 1991-1992 10.38
9.) 1989-1990 10.26
10.) 1930-1931 10.22

Top 10 Driest Winter
1.) 1924-1925 3.12*
1.) 1968-1969 4.13
2.) 1929-1930 5.47
3.) 1949-1950 5.52
4.) 1977-1978 5.78
5.) 1973-1974 5.84
6.) 1933-1934 5.87
7.) 2009-2010 5.87
8.) 1981-1982 5.93
9.) 1972-1973 6.07
10.) 1935-1936 6.17

* December 1924 is missing.

The coldest winter since 1925 occurred in 1964-1965, while the warmest is 2000-2001. The wettest winter is 1928-1929, while driest is 1968-1969. Some of Alaska’s warmest winters occurred when the Lower 48 was cold. It shows if it is cold in the Lower 48, it is more likely to be warmer in Alaska. The cold air has to go somewhere. It is largely due to upper level ridging over Alaska, called the East Pacific Oscillation (EPO). It is largely affected by “The Blob”, which I created a data called the Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP). The warmer the NEPWP is, the more negative EPO is.

Data came from Divisional Data Select, National Temperature and Precipitation Maps, and NOAA/NCEI Climate Division data: Mapping and Analysis Web Tool

2016-2017 Winter Forecast

Wow, time flies fast. Every year, time flies faster and it is almost Christmas. Winter is upon us again. Last winter we had a strong El Nino. This time around, we have Neutral conditions, neither La Nina or El Nino. Usually when there is a strong El Nino, La Nina follow. Not this time around. Other factors to consider are Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP), Roaring Forties, Equatorial Indian Ocean, and Tropical South Atlantic. However, since this El Nino is large and strong and has significant impact, it will weigh in more than other factors listed. Since, we have a strong El Nino, here are my analog winters. Here are the analog winters I came up with.

1878-1879
1897-1898
1900-1901
1912-1913
1919-1920
1926-1927
1931-1932
1958-1959
1983-1984
2003-2004

I chose these winters because the previous winter was El Nino as they are mostly strong El Nino’s. Those analog had weak La Nina or Neutral. Here is a table I created to identify strongest analogs.

Year ENSO Strong AMO PDO NEPWP EIOI TSAI R40I Total
1878-1879 1 1   1 1   1 5
1897-1898 1 1 1 1       4
1900-1901 1 1 1 3
1912-1913 1 1
1919-1920 1 1
1926-1927 1 1 1 3
1931-1932 1 1 1 1       4
1958-1959 1 1 1 1 1 1   6
1983-1984 1   1 1 1 1 1 6
2003-2004   1 1 1 1 1 1 6

I look at seven ocean patterns based on November averages. The cutoff for further analysis is four. We can eliminate these winters.
1900-1901
1912-1913
1919-1920
1926-1927

The analogs I will be looking at are
1878-1879
1897-1898
1931-1932
1958-1959
1983-1984
2003-2004

Let’s start with the ever important temperature. All divisional temperatures and rainfall were plotted with NOAA/NCDC Climate Division data: Mapping and Analysis Web Tool. All maps were generated with 20th Century Reanalysis Monthly Composites.

2016-2017_analog_divisional_temperature_standardizedanomaly-strongest-analog

This is a climate division map of the Lower 48. It does not have 1878-1879. Most of America saw cooler than normal winter, especially in Utah and Colorado. It is also colder in Texas. This would suggest a cooler than normal winter for most of America. The exception is in the Southeast where it is either normal or slightly warmer. What effects does it have around the world?

2016-2017_analog_wintertemperatureanomaly_world-strongest-analog

This one has 1878-1879. Alaska, Kamchatka Peninsula, Southeast Asia, India, Central Asia, and Arctic look to be cooler than normal. The Eastern Tip of Russia, Southeast US, Northeast Canada, North Central Siberia, Sudan, and Chad are warmer than normal. If one is wondering what the winter of 1878-1879 was like, here it is.

djf-1878-1879_wintertemperatureanomaly

It was cooler winter for North America with the exception of Northeast Canada and Greenland. It was also cooler throughout Siberia and Arctic. The NWS New York City has data from 1869 from Central Park. The first one is Normals and Extremes Central Park, NY (1869 to Present) and Average Monthly & Annual Temperatures at Central Park. The winter of 1878-1879 was a cold one with an average of 29.2°F. The average winter temperature in New York City is 35.1°F, which is 6 degrees below normal. The NWS Chicago shows a cooler than normal winter in 1878-1879, but not super cold. The previous winter of 1877-1878 is the warmest on record. It remains the warmest winter to this day. Chicago’s warmest winters occur in El Nino winters. No surprise there as the jet stream goes further south than usual. All Columbus, Ohio Data has the worst winters and 1878-1879 is considered one of the worst winters for Columbus. This would suggest that 1878-1879 was a cold winter for America including Texas.

The reason for 1878-1879 winter to be cold is due to negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO), which is ridging over Northeast Canada and Greenland. A positive NAO and AO is troughing over Greenland and Northteast Canada.

djf-1878-1879_winter500mbgeopotentialanomalynh

What does the upper level look like in analog winters?

2016-2017winter500mbgeopotentialanomalynh-strongest-analog

There is ridging south of Iceland, South of Bering Sea, and North Central Siberia. There is troughing over Eastern Russia, off the Eastern Seaboard of US, and Western Canada. This would suggest that cold blasts will be from the NAO rather than East Pacific Oscillation (EPO) and West Pacific Oscillation (WPO). It shows that if EPO and WPO are positive, while NAO is negative, there can be cold blasts. Keep in mind, EPO, WPO, and NAO can change quickly.

Wonder what winter will be like in the rain department?

2016-2017_analog_divisional_rain_standardizedanomaly-strongest-analog

From Texas to Maine, it looks to be wetter than normal. Same goes with part of the Midwest and Western US. California looks to be somewhat drier than normal. Again, this does not include 1878-1879, which I have included.

djf-1878-1879_winterprecipitationanomaly_world

Florida, California, Scandinavia, Iceland, Iran, Korea, Japan, and Western Canada were drier than normal in 1878-1879. It was very wet in Texas, Hawaii, Southwestern US, Caribbean, Spain, Portugal, France, Mediterranean region of Europe and Southwest Asia, and India in 1878-1879. Here is a worldwide map with the analogs.

2016-2017_analog_winterprecipitationanomaly_world-strongest-analog

It is the same general areas that are wet and dry. Interestingly, Western Canada is wetter, while Southwest is drier in analog winters. Texas has an average rainfall in analog winters.

How were winters like in these analog years? Were there cold blasts? Cold events are either in America or Texas. Rankings are temperature average since 1895.

1878-1879
Many areas in Northern US experience colder than normal winters.
1878 was a cold year for Europe, especially for United Kingdom.
The previous winter of 1877-1878 was very warm. In fact it is known as the year without winter in 1877.

Ranking
N/A

1897-1898
Reports of sleet fell on December 3-4, 1897 in Houston.
Cold blasts hits Houston in early January 1898. A low of 27°F on January 2, 1898.

Ranking
America’s 58th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 63rd coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 47th coldest winter on record.

1931-1932
Houston was struck by a cold blast in March. Snow fell on March 10-11, 1932 in Houston. It remains the latest measurable snowfall to fall in Houston. A low of 27°F occurred on March 9, 10, and 13, 1932.

Ranking
America’s 104th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 87th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 89th coldest winter on record.

1958-1959
A cold blasts hits Texas in early January 1959. A low of 21°F was recorded on January 4, 1959 in Houston. Another cold blasts hits two weeks later with low of 25°F on January 22, 2016.

Ranking
America’s 38th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 24th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 20th coldest winter on record.

1983-1984
December 1983 had a huge cold blasts that set many records throughout America. Many areas experienced their coldest Christmas on record.

Ranking
America’s 19th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 8th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 10th coldest winter on record.

2003-2004
Northeast US was hit by cold blasts in January 2004. Boston had their coldest January since 1893. Many areas saw over 100 inches of snow, especially in Northern New York.
Snow fell in San Antonio and Austin on Valentine’s Day 2004.

Ranking
America’s 78th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 88th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 51st coldest winter on record.

I am not suggesting we will see a cold blast on par with December 1983 or January 2004. It is possible this winter could see a cold blast. Interesting to note that 1958-1959 and 1983-1984 were cold winters for America and Texas.

I think this winter could be a cooler winter. I would not be surprised to hear of a major cold blast this coming winter. It should be an interesting one for sure.

Challenger Disaster 30 Years Later

SpaceShuttleChallengerHeader

It is hard to believe it has been years ago on this day. Space Shuttle Challenger was launched on a cold morning. Than 73 seconds later it explodes as it is heading into space. To make matters worse, many children watched the space shuttle explode on live television. It was on CNN that time. The reason was that a teacher was on board, Christa McAuliffe. She was the first teacher on board the space shuttle. There were also people watching Challenger racing into space at Kennedy Space Center. January 28, 1986 is a day that anyone who remembers will remember as long as they live, like September 11, 2001. What caused Space Shuttle Challenger to explode? Was weather a factor?

Challenger was originally to be launched on January 22, but due to bad weather. Than it was rescheduled on January 25, but bad weather plagued Dakar, Senegal. Dakar serves as a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) if the space shuttle is heading into space and runs into trouble. A lot of things go into play when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to launch space shuttle. It is not just weather at Cape Canaveral. It is also TAL location weather.

A strong cold blast hit the Eastern US in late January 1986. The morning of January 28, 1986 was a cold one. Melbourne and Orlando both recorded 26°F, a record to this day for Melbourne. It was very cold in Florida. It was very cold for Florida and east of the Mississippi River.

19860128_TemperatureAnomalySurface_USA

To make matters worse, ice accumulated on the launch pad and space shuttle. This is despite the Ice Team cleared ice the night before. The Ice Team did one last inspection and it was declared safe to launch.

However, the O-ring in the Solid Rocket Boosters was damaged from the cold weather. The cold weather weakened the O-ring. Plumes of smoke from the Solid Rocket Boosters shoots as Challenger is launched at 11:38 AM. Aluminum oxide from the heat of the burning propellant sealed the hole where the O-ring was. Had aluminum oxide not form, Challenger would of exploded right at launch. Looks like the aluminum oxide saved Challenger from explosion.

ChallengerLaunch01

That all changed 37 seconds later, Challenger encounters unusually strong wind shear. The wind shear causes fluctuations and damages the aluminum oxide in the solid rocket boosters. This allowed smoke and fire to shoot out where the O-ring is suppose to be. Than a series of catastrophic events happen 72 seconds after Challenger was launched.

ChallengerLaunch02

The Solid Rocket Boosters starts to break away from the External Tank as the struts have been broken away. The flames point to the External Tank, which damages it, allowing hydrogen and liquid oxygen to come out. They all ignite and trigger a massive explosion. The massive explosion destroys Challenger with all seven crew members on board. It starts raining debris onto the Atlantic Ocean. Grace and Ed Corrigan watched their daughter, Christa McAuliffe die in the explosion. One cannot fathom the shock and grief they are going through as they watched their daughter die.

ChallengerExplosion01

ChallengerExplosion02

A stunned world watches Challenger exploding on television. It was only live on CNN that time, but other networks played Challenger exploding many times. The nation and world grieved for the seven people who died on board Challenger. President Ronald Reagan canceled the State Of The Union speech. He gave a speech addressing a shocked and grieving nation about the Challenger disaster.

What role did weather play in the Challenger disaster? It played a role. The O-ring was weakened by the record cold weather to hit Florida. That weakness was sealed due to the heat only to run into strong wind shear. It was the strongest wind shear encountered by a space shuttle that time. Had Challenger not encountered wind shear, the disaster would probably not have happened.

My verdict, Space Shuttle Challenger should of never been launched on January 28, 1986. The series of weather events played a role from the cold blast to wind shear. Space Shuttle launches have not occurred in cold weather prior to Challenger. Also, the engineers were horrified to see ice build up on the launch pad and space shuttle. That is very telling right there.

Here is a video of Space Shuttle Challenger launch on live television on CNN.

2015-2016 Winter Forecast

Snowman01

It is this time of the year. Winter is coming as Christmas is coming. It seems like Christmas comes sooner and sooner each year. One huge factor for this winter is the strong El Nino. It is one of the strongest El Nino since 1997-1998 if we go back to 1950. There were strong El Nino before 1950. 1877-1878, 1888-1889, 1896-1897, 1902-1903, 1904-1905, and 1940-1941 had strong El Nino.

Other factors to consider are Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and now Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP). However, since this El Nino is large and strong and has significant impact, it will weigh in more than other factors listed. Since, we have a strong El Nino, here are my analog winters.

1877-1878
1888-1889
1896-1897
1902-1903
1940-1941
1957-1958
1972-1973
1982-1983
1991-1992
1997-1998

I choose these analog years because they are strong El Nino regardless of Eastern Equatorial or Modoki or Central Pacific. I did not include 1904-1905, 1987-1987, and 1992-1993 because the peak happened in Spring, unlike right now. Since, I go by divisional climate data, there is nothing before 1895, but there are local climate data before 1895, but it would be tedious to look at. However, I can look at upper air pattern and temperature anomaly in those analog years thanks to 20th Century Reanalysis Monthly Composites, which has 20CRV2c.

2015-2016Winter500mbGeopotentialAnomalyWorld

It shows troughing south of Alaska, which is a positive East Pacific Oscillation (EPO). A positive EPO is less favorable for freezes. Now, that does not mean the EPO will always be positive because it can go negative. A negative EPO would have ridging over Alaska, which means a better chance for cold blasts in the winter. There is also ridging off the east coast of Japan and surrounding Antartica.

So, how does it affect temperature and rainfall? Let’s start with temperature.

2015-2016_Analog_WinterTemperatureAnomaly_World

The Northern part of America is warm as the jet stream travels further south than normal. It is also warm throughout South America as El Nino is off the coast of South America. It is cold in the Arctic and Antartica region. El Nino also effects rain.

2015-2016_Analog_WinterPrecipitationAnomaly_World

In terms of rainfall, Southern and Western US, West Coast of South America, Central Africa, Northern Pakisan/Afghanistan, and Southeast China is wetter than normal. The wettest is the area over where El Nino is. Meanwhile, most of Eastern South America, Philpppines, Indonesia, Northern Australia, Southeast Africa, Madagascar, and Central America are going to be dry. Droughts are usually a huge problem during El Nino for those areas.

Keep in mind temperature and rainfall records often do not go back to the 19th Century in many parts of the world. Let’s take a look at divisional climate in America. The data goes back to 1895, so there will be no data available prior to 1894, which means no data for 1877-1878 and 1888-1889. Let’s start with rainfall.

2015-2016_Analog_Divisional_Rain_StandardizedAnomaly

Rainfall is heavier to the south as mentioned previously due to jet stream. The jet steam carries more storm systems over the Southern US. Meanwhile, the Northern US is drier as a result. Generally it is wetter, but not always. Here is the wettest and driest analog years.

America
Driest: 1896-1897 6.68
Wettest: 1997-1998 8.99
Analog Mean: 7.61
Analog Standard Deviation: 0.87
Overall Mean (1895-2015): 6.74
Overall Standard Deviation (1895-2015): 0.88

Texas
Driest: 1896-1897 3.49
Wettest: 1991-1992 12.72
Analog Mean: 7.09
Analog Standard Deviation: 2.63
Overall Mean (1895-2015): 4.82
Overall Standard Deviation (1895-2015): 1.83

Upper Texas Coast
Driest: 1896-1897 5.30
Wettest: 1991-1992 23.54
Analog Mean: 13.18
Analog Standard Deviation: 5.24
Overall Mean (1895-2015): 10.24
Overall Standard Deviation (1895-2015): 3.53

1896-1897 was dry overall for America including Texas and Upper Texas Coast. The wettest is 1991-1992 and 1997-1998. Overall, analog years are wetter than normal. How does temperature fare?

2015-2016_Analog_Divisional_Temperature_StandardizedAnomaly

The Southern US is cooler than normal. It is due to the perpetual cloud coverage and rain, which keeps things cooler than normal. There can also be cold blasts during a strong El Nino. Up north is warmer than normal in the winter. Some people would like it as those areas are cold in the winter. Here is the warmest and coolest analog years.

America
Coolest: 1902-1903 30.03°F
Warmest: 1991-1992 36.35°F
Analog Mean: 33.55°F
Analog Standard Deviation: 2.29
Overall Mean (1895-2015): 32.31°F
Overall Standard Deviation (1895-2015): 2.01

Texas
Coolest: 1972-1973 43.83°F
Warmest: 1991-1992 46.90°F
Analog Mean: 46.90°F
Analog Standard Deviation: 1.89
Overall Mean (1895-2015): 47.28°F
Overall Standard Deviation (1895-2015): 2.31

Upper Texas Coast
Coolest: 1972-1973 50.13°F
Warmest: 1997-1998 55.93°F
Analog Mean: 53.47°F
Analog Standard Deviation: 1.09
Overall Mean (1895-2015): 53.97°F
Overall Standard Deviation (1895-2015): 2.63

America is warmer overall in those analog years. That is due to the Northern US being warmer than normal. Texas and Upper Texas Coast is cooler than normal due to all the rain and clouds over the Lone Star State. The combination and cooler and wetter weather increases the chance for winter weather for Southeast Texas. What about snow?

In Southeast Texas, snow has occurred in these analog years.
1896-1897
1957-1958
1972-1973

The data record from Houston Weather Bureau (WB) in January 1897 has handwriting I cannot read too well. It says that snow and a blizzard happened in Houston on January 25, 1897. There was a hard freeze from January 25-29. It did not go above freezing between January 26-29. It is a freeze in par with other huge freezes in January/February 1951 and February 1989 freezes! February 12, 1958 saw a snow flurry. The Winter of 1972-1973 had three snowfall events of over one inches. That is unheard in Houston area! It is also one of the coldest winters on record for Upper Texas Coast on par with 1977-1978 and 2009-2010. There is no weather record from 1877-1878 in Southeast Texas, so I do not know what the weather was like that time. 1888-1889 had no snowfall recorded. There were some freezes in January and February of 1889. It was more of a wet winter that time. This is from Houston WB records.

Another thing to consider is severe weather. I created a GIS heat map of tornado, hail, and strong wind for those analog years. The tornado, hail, and strong wind is from the 1950s and later. They are all within 300 miles. Let’s start with tornadoes.

2015-2016_Winter_Analog_Tornado

Tornadoes are generally rare in the Winter, but they can happen. In analog winters, tornadoes are most common from Southeast Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. The second hot spot is Central Florida. El Nino causes the jet stream to go further south, allowing storms to track over. These storms dump heavy rain and can produce severe weather. Let’s look at strong winds from storms.

2015-2016_Winter_Analog_Wind

The entire Eastern US is most at risk for strong winds. Also, Central California is at most risk for strong winds. Strong winds can from severe thunderstorms and storm systems, a tight pressure gradient of low and high pressure, or a cold front passes. So, what effect does El Nino have on hail in the winter?

2015-2016_Winter_Analog_Hail

The highest risk for hail is Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Southern Kansas, and Southern Missouri. There is also a higher risk in Alabama and Georgia and Southern Florida. Not a good thing as severe weather is generally more common in an El Nino winter in the Southern US.

The heat map could give us a good idea where severe weather events could happen this winter. Frankly, I would be just as concerned about severe weather, especially in the Southern US. I would not be surprised if this winter will be known as the winter of severe weather besides winter weather.

Past El Nino does not guarantee that this El Nino will be similar. All El Nino’s are different. Regardless, I expect an interesting winter coming. So fasten your seatbelt tightly. It will be a rough ride for sure.